Shoreline Sightseeing Cruise

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With three fantastic cruise options to choose from, sailing on both the Chicago River and Lake Michigan, and departing both day and night, spending an hour on a Shoreline Sightseeing Cruise is a great option for Chicago tourists and locals alike. By offering unprecedented views of the city, amazing tale of the city’s history, and a great atmosphere, these cruises have become some of the most popular rides in town.

History of the Company

Shoreline Sightseeing Cruises is a third-generation family-owned company. In 1939, the company consisted of only one vessel sailing off the shores of Lake Michigan and offering visitors a unique view of the Chicago skyline. That original cruise departed from several points along the lake’s shore including the historic and notable Edgewater Beach Hotel.

The popularity of its initial cruise allowed Shoreline to quickly grow in both its size and breadth. Today, the company is comprised of nine total vessels operating off of Navy Pier on Lake Michigan as well as a privately-held slip on the Chicago River. Three different tours are routinely offered during the high tourist season with the additional options of reserving vessels for group events, chartered trips, and personalized cruises. There are also several special cruises and seasonal offerings such as the St. Patrick’s Day Cruise, and periodic Brew and Wine Tasting cruises as well as an American Girl Cruise for girls.

Shoreline is the largest group of touring vessels in the city of Chicago as well as one of the oldest. It is unique in its offerings of both day and night (fireworks) cruises as well as its policy to allow leashed pets aboard all of its ships.

Tours Offered

There are three main tours offered by Shoreline Sightseeing Cruises. Each presents guests with a unique and interesting view of Chicago as well as additional opportunities for learning and entertainment:

Shoreline’s Architecture Cruises the most popular among the company’s offerings and a great way to see the marvelous history of Chicago architecture from a new perspective, literally! Launching from either Navy Pier or a the Shoreline dock on the Chicago River, the Architecture Cruise allows guests a new and comprehensive look at the city of Chicago and its history of rebirth following the Great Fire of 1871. Lead by trained, professional tour guides this cruise is as much as history lesson as it is an entertaining way to spend an hour. The cruise highlights several famous area landmarks including the John Hancock Building, Tribune Tower, and Willis Tower.

Another popular choice is Skyline Lake Tours. The original program of the company, this cruise on Lake Michigan is 30 minutes long and offers breathtaking views of the city’s skyline along with great entertainment options on its nighttime cruises. Available from March through mid-October, guests can choose from day and nighttime cruises. Each ship features a cash bar and frequent special guests, offering a great night (or day) on the town to visitors and locals alike.

Finally, the Fireworks Cruise is really just an evening offering of both of the above options with the additional thrill of seeing Navy Pier’s amazing fireworks show over Lake Michigan from the water itself. Offered seasonally from Memorial Day through Labor Day on Wednesday and Saturday nights, those with the chance to get this view of the Navy Pier show are always impressed.

Why It’s a Must-See

There are many ways to ‘see’ the city of Chicago. Tours offered range from walking tours to cycling, busses, and boats. However, the selections available with Shoreline Sightseeing Cruises are not only time-tested, but consistently ranked among the most favored by Chicago tourists and locals alike. Offering both education and entertainment in a short and sweet package, the torus offered by Shoreline are a sure bet for a memorable experience.

Where to Buy It


There are a number of ways you can enjoy admission to this attraction.

Save up to 20% online at Smart Destinations. If you add more than one attraction to the cart, you will get an automatic savings of up to 20%. It’s called Make Your Own Pass.

Pay Full Price and purchase a ticket from Shoreline Sightseeing Cruise either online or in person.

Purchase a Tourist pass. Shoreline Sightseeing Cruises are available on the Go Chicago Card.